The OP Stat of the Game: David Potter, 2 minutes played
While the Greenville News headline reads "Tigers roll past Alabama," I would say it would be more like sputtering. Had I written this post last night, it would have been peppered with obscenities.
Now, I can see a bit more clearly and still, we had no endgame. It didn't come down to missed freethrows, though the Tigers missed several in the end. It came down to David Potter. His injury early in the first half dictated the offensive and defensive rotations we used for the rest of the game. Without his inside play and rebounding presence, the Tigers got into foul trouble- Grant and Sykes both had four fouls.
The elbow to David Potter's face might be a minor concussion and I wish him well. His absence, however, demonstrates how important each individual team member is on this year's team. Though OP was able to make adjustments and Tanner Smith contributed nicely along with Bryan "Big Smooth" Narcisse's excitement off the bench, we never looked like we were in a groove; we never really looked, nor played comfortably.
For example, look at KC Rivers line: 12 points, 3 assists, 9 rebounds, 4 steals- not great, but not bad either. But look at his shot attempts: 5-16 FGM-A, 1-3 FTM-A, 1-7 3PTM-A.
This is not how KC Rivers plays when he is playing in his comfort zone.
And what about Trevor Booker? Yes, he led the team in scoring with 19 points, to go with 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. But of his shots, he was 6-12 including a missed dunk, a missed layup, two missed jumpers, and two missed three-pointers. His game was moved outside and without Potter to open up space and minutes, Sykes wasn't able to help Booker establish the inside game. This wasn't a total problem until the end.
After Alabama finally found the basket again, our compilation of fouls and our sudden lack of ball-handling skills in the endgame seemed to spell doom. We weren't hitting our FTs, an all-too-familiar-situation, and Alabama was poised to steal a win, or at least get a chance at it, even after Senario Hillman fouled out.
It was a tough win against a decent Alabama team. OP did a nice job of adjusting to Potter's injury and to the changing defenses the Tide showed. Were I awarding an OP player of the game nod, it would go to Tanner Smith. He was more efficient in his 13 minutes than most of the rest of the team. He had 6 pts on 3-5 shooting, 5 rebounds-incidentally the same as Booker.
So congratulations on the win Tigers. You showed repose, though maybe a bit too much in the end, and gathered another win to move to 15-0. Now it is on to the ACC, and every game from here on out will be difficult and also televised.
Next game: Saturday 12pm, NCSU.